U.S. employers added 245,000 jobs in November. This was a slowdown from the previous month, and lower than economists expected. Despite the growth, the jobs numbers show a significant slowdown in the recovery. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7%. Year-over-year wage growth was at 4.4%.
245,000: The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November.
6.7%: The unemployment rate fell to 6.7%.
4.4%: Wages rose 4.4% over the past year.
If we were looking at the numbers for November 2019, the 245,000 jobs added to the economy and the 0.2% drop in the unemployment rate would look like good news. However, in 2020, those numbers tell the opposite story. There are few bright spots in the November jobs report. The Wall Street Journal reports the most significant jobs growth happened in transportation and warehousing, likely related to holiday hiring for ecommerce roles.
November’s job growth is by far the weakest since the recovery started this spring. The numbers fell below economist expectations, and as the Washington Post reports, the retail sector shed 35,000 jobs. Bars, restaurants and other food-service businesses shed 17,000. This comes as coronavirus cases have been surging across the U.S., causing some jurisdictions to implement new restrictions, including closing indoor dining. The increase in cases may also be pushing some Americans to complete holiday shopping online, rather than inside retail stores.
Additionally, the decrease in the unemployment rate occurred mostly because 400,000 people dropped out of the workforce, as NPR reports. The economy is still 9.8 million jobs behind pre-pandemic levels.
As 2020 draws to a close, there are still several unanswered questions. Congress is still negotiating a relief bill. Two runoff elections in Georgia will determine control of congress in 2021, which could influence the possibility of additional aid in the coming year.
Americans are also still awaiting FDA approval of the first coronavirus vaccines. As the New York Times reports, many employers see the vaccine as the “sunlight in the distance,” but it will likely take months before the vaccine is available to the majority of Americans.